Tuesday, November 8, 2016


We arrived in the Bay area over a month ago (October 5) and stayed a couple nights with our friend Patty in Los Altos. Besides catching up with her, we caught up on laundry and shopped for warmer clothes (believe it or not this was the plan from the start. Why carry unneeded warm clothes all over Europe?) We also worked on managing our social schedule…trying to connect with as many of our Bay Area friends as possible. Even so we missed connecting (and even contacting) some wonderful friends. We definitely need to schedule more time in California sometime in the near future.

We moved on to El Granada (near Half Moon Bay on the coast) to visit with our friends from Wealthy Winos, a very fun but short-lived investment and wine club from the late 90"s. It turns out that Peter & Peggi were in town from Denver and that Tom's 65th birthday was upon us, so...you guessed it, a surprise Party was in order. Steve & Sarah hosted the big event. Great food, drink and conversation. During the evening we also got to see some of the locals, a male and female deer that hang-out in Steve and Sarah’s back yard. 
Doe resting in back yard during Tom's birthday party. A buck was resting around the corner.
We enjoyed our brief visit with Grant and Sue who hosted us the first night, then we moved over to Steve & Sarah's, who were also hosting Peter & Peggi. In the afternoon we hiked over to and around the bluffs, including the area that overlooks the famous surfing wave, Mavericks. 

Fresh sardines, just off the boat. Yum!
Note: This is not a bw photo.  It just appears to be.
The next morning several of us walked down to the harbor to buy fresh sardines for dinner. Later we drove to the open spaces near the former "Devil's Slide" area for a great hike. Upon our return to El Granada we stopped at the micro brewery Hop Dogma Brewing Company. Pat liked the Porters & Stout and especially the Belgian Saison, Le Mond de Funk. Bill was disappointed in the lack of Brown Ales.
View of Devil's Slide area from our hiking trail
On Monday we moved on to Sonoma to visit Marc and Allison. Enroute we managed to remember that Sarah recommended seeing the 16th Avenue Steps Project. Wow. It is a beautiful mosaic running up the risers of the 163 steps located at 16th and Moraga in San Francisco. The project is located about near Golden Gate Park and is the result of a neighborhood wide project where people got together and donated to change the steps into a work of art.

We continued onto Sonoma, stopping at Gloria Ferrar for a light lunch and a sparkling wine tasting. After a little shopping around the square in Sonoma we headed up the hill to see Marc and Allison. Marc is now an accomplished wine maker and we enjoyed a range of his reds and whites with our evening meals. Luckily it was a holiday (Columbus Day) so Allison was home. (She tried retiring but failed, so she is again commuting to Silicon Valley each week.) 

Marc & Alison at the winery (the main facility other than the vineyard, is this shipping container that Marc buried into the hillside. Yep, the winery is basically one big shipping container. Very compact but it works.)
The wine may be for personal/friend's/family consumption,
but they have a nice label
We ventured out for a day or wine tasting along Highway 12. After a few glasses we needed some lunch and ordered a pizza along with a wine tasting at VJB Vineyards & Cellars. Afterwards we went for a hike in Jack London park. Along the trail are the ruins of his house which burned down before he could occupy it.

We had dinner with Marc - barbecue, several of his 2013 wines (really good) and a few items we picked up during the day. 

On our way back to Los Altos we visited Pat Li. She is now a docent in-training at the De Young Art Museum and was an amazing tour guide for the Legion of Honor museum. Later we went to Pat’s place for a lunch of Chinese dumplings, spinach and Chinese cole slaw. Pat is not only a great friend, she is an amazing chef. She lives at Candlestick Point. After lunch we took a walk along the shore and saw the construction/development where Candlestick Park (former baseball and football park) used to be. 

Cabinet on Stand - 17 C French at the Legion of Honor Museum
We were delighted to connect with Kim Albright for wine and snacks at Turn, an upscale eatery/bar in Los Altos. 

At Pat's GSB 30th reunion we saw old friends, shared experiences, attended talks by celebrated professors, and generally had a good time. Pat found it so much easier to "take notes" these days. One snap of the iPhone camera every now and then is all that is needed. Oh and it might help to sit up front so the photos aren't blurry.

Note taking in the new world 

The final event of the reunion was brunch at the home of one of Pat's classmates. Clearly Jeff, the owner, has worked hard to be so successful because his wife wrote a message to him (and friends) on the bathroom wall of their elegantly decorated home. See below.

We stayed one night in Aptos (on the coast near Santa Cruz) with Liz (mother-in-law of Emily our San Miguel hair dresser) & her husband Chris, Their house is located near the beach and we got to see the windy end of a heavy storm plus we enjoyed the good cooking and conversation. 

The next day started off hazy but when it burned off we were treated to beautiful surf scenes. First, a short walk along the beach in Aptos. Then we were off to Carmel by the Sea to see Heather and Scott. We stopped in Pacific Grove along the bay to view the great waves and have some lunch in town. 

The morning after the storm was quite nice on the beach
The surf along the shore in Pacific Grove was quite impressive, even the sea gull is admiring the waves
We met Heather and Scott at their place in Carmel Valley and had great pasta with clams and prawns, and assisted in the completion of the jigsaw puzzle they had in progress. The next night we went to one of our local favorite restaurants, Mediterranean, and got to enjoy a birthday and wedding serenade.

We had a sunny day for our drive Cambria. We managed to take two hikes, have lunch at Nepenthe, and took many photos along Big Sur. We also stopped to see some of the local artisanal works, encountered an auto tour of updated classic cars, and appreciated the growing numbers of Elephant Seals in the area.

Along Big Sur (above & below)

Pat framed by redwoods along the hiking trail
A few of the cars on the tour
Elephant seals. We liked the action in the top left, appreciated the choreography of the lower left,
as well as,the overall scene. 
We stayed in Cambria for a couple nights. The timing was great as we were in the midst of the October Scarecrow festival. We got to see many of the more than 500 scarecrows scattered around Cambria. We ate along the shore at Moon Stone Beach Bar & Grill on our first night and enjoyed some good seafood and a sunset. The next morning we are off to view the scarecrows and do a little some shopping. We had lunch a great lunch at Indigo Moon, and purchased some wine and munchies for an evening snack in our room. 

From Cambria we headed on to Woodland Hills (LA area) to visit with Dave & Shelly. Dinner was at the home of their son Scott and wife Corlis and their daughters Nora & Quin. They have a small farm on a hilltop near Burbank. They share the farm with 1 llama, 5-6 goats, and 3 horses. Scott's daytime job is with Google. 

Saturday we were off to the wine country around Solvang for some tasting with Dimitri & Alla, friends of Dave and Shelly that we met several years ago. We had dinner at Trattoria Grappolo, very nice Italian food. (Actually we ended up staying two nights with Dimitri & Alla because just a day before our arrival in Woodland Hills, there was a minor spa catastrophe at Dave & Shelly's. There was severe flooding and in the early stages of repair, the house looked like a war zone. So many thanks to Dimitri & Alla, and good luck to Dave & Shelly.)

On Sunday, we took a walk around the house Dave had found on AirBnB. The place can be rented complete with facilities for horses. On our walk we encountered various trails, horses, corrals, ...

We started our Sunday tasting with a unique combination of cookies and wine pairing at the Loring Wine Company. The cookies were tasty but also more savory than sweet, clearly to work better with the wines. Later, after shopping for a picnic lunch, the four of us headed to another winery, Demetria, where they provided tastings and live music to accompany our picnic. We went to Aly's for dinner, quite nice French cuisine. 

Oh so true...
At Loring Woine Company...cookie & wine pairing
Descriptions of the wines & cookies.  
We headed back to LA on Monday and wrapped up our stay with a little shopping before heading to the airport for our flight home on Tuesday. It was nice to see the Parroquia again after nearly four months on the road.